Thursday, May 19, 2011

Road-Themed Songs Deserve to Be Taken Seriously

Here is Springsteen's celebrated Dublin performance of "Further on up the Road." It's a beautiful thing. I listen to it as much as possible.

Album Cover of the Week: Misfits, by The Kinks

For some time, now, I have been paying homage to album covers on my Facebook page but the level of engagement possible on a social networking site is so much more limited than it is on a vaunted blog such as The Rhetorical Situation. So this is the first of what will be weekly installments of Harrogate's Album Cover of the Week.®

Most if not all of these album covers are going to be gleaned from those which in my estimation contain great music--this one certainly fits that bill. But sometimes the cover art of an album which one detests muscially, may still merit attention. I encourage other contributors and commenters to get in on the discussion not only of the album covers that I place here in these installments, but also of those which you would like to share, or talk about.

So here is one of my very favorite album covers ever, from the Kinks Misfits (1978):

Misfits as a Rock 'N' Roll Album really is a wonderful piece of musical art that one can listen to endlessly and never feel cheated. Here is the song list, a few of which I will probably post through the week:

1. "Misfits" – 4:42
2. "Hay Fever" – 3:33
3. "Black Messiah" – 4:08
4. "A Rock & Roll Fantasy" – 4:58
5. "In a Foreign Land" – 3:02
6. "Permanent Waves" – 3:48
7. "Live Life" – 4:47
8. "Out of the Wardrobe" – 3:37
9. "Trust Your Heart" (Dave Davies) – 4:11
10. "Get Up" – 3:22

So, what do you think of the cover? I have always been able to look at it for long periods of time and keep noticing different things about it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Morning Response to Last Monday Morning's Video Response

Oxymoron posted a wonderful video a week ago today, and I want to honor that here. It is also making me think about how many great songs there are out there with the governing metaphor of a Road. Here is one that I like a lot:

Oh. And BTW. The album is Youthanasia, the cover art for which ye see above. Dovetailing with my previous post, I just think this is some seriously fabulous cover art!

Question of the Day: Are Album Covers Dead?

As many of ye know from The Facebook®, Supadiscomama recently got me a turntable and I have been having a lot of fun with it, rediscovering some music that I haven't listened to in over a decade (by the way, I also hooked up my Tape Deck and have simultaneously begun a cassette-gathering endeavor, but that is a different story....). One thing I have noticed while going through all this vinyl is the vividity of the album cover art. The covers are just so very much bigger than what any of us are used to looking at any more. You take a record like Hendrix's Axis Bold as Love, and look at the 12 X 12 version and it really does seem to lay the CD cover in the shade.

As once again testified by my The Facebook® page, I have long been a huge fan of Album Cover Art anyway, and I have always said one of the reasons that I didn't want to give up on CD's and go totally digital (one of the many, many, many, many reasons), was that I would miss the physical object that also includes the Cover Art. Think about the cover to Nirvana's Nevermind. I mean, good God. That's a work of art right there. But what if the art form really did diminish to an irrevocable point wih the emergence of the CD, and the newest Digital formats are simply the final blow?

Now, I guess I don't have that sensitive of an ear, but in the end I have decided that I cannot REALLY tell that much of a difference between the sound put out by Vinyl and that by a CD or even in the digital format--not enough to justify some of the absolute scorn I see being heaped upon CDs on audio forums. But the album cover art is another issue.

So with all these ruminations out of the way, here is my Question of the Day: What do you guys think of this quote, which I have posted from an audio forum I have been reading around in lately?

LP covers were great. The art aspect of covers was really lost with CDs, which have less than 20% of the space of LPs to work with. The art and originality of the covers was often as important as the music, sometimes more so. Even covers that were "just" photographs, needed great photographs when they were blown up to 12" by 12" size. I have a Best of Mississippi John Hurt gatefold album that has two great photographs inside of Hurt smiling while playing, and gives you a wonderful perspective of his wizened, Buddha-like face and the sheer likability of the man. Something that cannot be achieved with the postage stamp sized photos in CD booklets. Not just sound quality has diminished with CDs, but the whole magic aura surrounding albums from the 60's and 70's. This was a time when music was more than just music, but entered and influenced your life. Album covers were a big part of this. Would the Beatles, and others, have had as big an impact on the world if their music had first been released on CDs rather than LPs (how many would spend time examining the Sgt. Pepper cover if its size was 5" by 5"—get out the magnifying glass)?